With Covid-19 having been a reality for a considerable number of months now, familiar terminology has started cropping up again and again as part of government-issued travel advice. But Riskline has identified that many discrepancies exist when it comes to how ‘quarantine’ and ‘isolation’ are defined across the world, and this is causing much confusion for travellers.
In response, Suzanne Sangiovese, Commercial and Communications Director of Riskline, explains that quarantine or isolation are likely to mean one of two situations: quarantine / government quarantine or self-isolation / self-quarantine.
Sangiovese says that quarantine / government quarantine is effectively the mandatory isolation for high-risk groups such as travellers, people with Covid-19 or those who came in direct contact with them, to limit the spread of the virus and prevent it from being transmitted further into the local community. “Quarantine is usually done at government-approved facilities such as hotels, hostels and/or hospitals under close supervision, usually for a period of two weeks,” she said. “While many countries initially absorbed the costs of quarantine, travellers are increasingly required to pay at least a portion of the costs. Depending on the country, international non-resident travellers may be required to pay the full cost of government quarantine.”
Sangiovese details that some of the countries which have imposed mandatory government approved quarantine are: Malaysia, where travellers eligible to enter are required to self-quarantine for 14 days must download the MySejahtera app and wear a wristband for identification and monitoring by authorities; India, where nationals and residents returning from abroad are required to quarantine for seven days at a government-designated facility, followed by seven days of home isolation, with travellers required to install the Aarogya Setu application; New Zealand, where nationals and residents returning from abroad are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival at government designated hotels; and China, where all travellers arriving from abroad are required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival at a government approved facility or hotel.
On the other side of the coin, Sangiovese explains that self-isolation / self-quarantine (which is also called ‘self-quarantine’ or ‘home quarantine’) is a ‘less restrictive’ form of isolation, where the individual is allowed to self-isolate or quarantine at home or their accommodation for a specific period. “The monitoring and enforcement of this period varies between governments, and some are stricter than others. It is important to note that this form of quarantine may be harder for authorities to monitor as the onus is on the individual to ensure guidelines are adhered to,” she said. “In addition, self-isolation / self-quarantine can either be mandatory or recommended, depending on the respective authorities as well as the individual case of each traveller. The period of self-isolation can also differ, some governments only require individuals to self-isolate until they test negative for Covid-19, while others require travellers to isolate for a full 14-day period.”
Sangiovese lists some of the countries that have implemented mandatory self-isolation as including: Canada, where all travellers entering the country, excluding essential workers, must self-isolate for 14 days; Greece, where travellers may be subject to Covid-19 testing, depending on the QR code generated from their Passenger Locator Form, and upon being tested, they must self-isolate at a hotel or residence until they receive their results, with those testing positive to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine at a designated hotel; Germany, where travellers arriving from designated high-risk areas must undergo a 14-day home quarantine; and the UK, where most arrivals must self-isolate for 14 days, excluding travellers from select countries and territories exempt from quarantine.
Inconsistencies and contradictions – of which there have been many recently – only further fuel the growing pandemic of traveller uncertainty, and this, in turn, has a direct knock-on effect on how quickly the travel industry will recover from the Covid-19 fallout. While Riskline’s guidance is a useful tool indeed, with GlobalData having recently cited that people are more frequently relying on governmental guidance before they make any travel decisions, it’s increasingly crucial that these organisations are clear in their directions. Using key terms interchangeably will only further hinder the restart of international travel and tourism, and will act to damage consumer trust and confidence.